Church members burnt in Lagos pipeline explosion
Residents of the Gloryland Estate in the Isheri-Olofin, Igando area of Lagos State were thrown into panic on Thursday as a pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation exploded in the area.
The fire, which started around 7.45am, was said to have killed one person, injured one other and burnt bridges made of planks in the area before the intervention of emergency management workers.
Men of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Rapid Response Squad and policemen from surrounding divisions were said to have responded to the disaster.
Suspected vandals had ruptured the NNPC pipeline and siphoned fuel for several days before the explosion on Thursday.
Our correspondents learnt from residents that those caught up in the inferno were having a spiritual bath around a stream in the area.
While a man, who sustained 99 degree burns died on the spot, the second victim was said to have sustained about 70 per cent burns and was admitted to the Igando General Hospital for treatment.
It was gathered that the men, who were not aware that petrol from the vandalised pipeline had flowed into the stream, lighted a candle and were engulfed in flames.
A resident, on condition of anonymity, said upon sighting the fire, the pastor conducting the cleansing escaped, leaving his church members behind.
He said, “The pastor was conducting cleansing for his members in the stream, not knowing that petrol had flowed into the water.
“Immediately they lit a candle for the cleansing, the whole place was engulfed in fire. The pastor escaped, but the members were not so lucky.”
A police source said pipeline vandalism appeared a popular venture among the residents of the area, adding that sacks used to convey stolen fuel were recovered in the bush.
“That place is where they siphon fuel regularly. The residents cannot say they don’t know what is happening. We found kegs and sacks. Inside the sacks were nylons, where they pour the fuel. They use the sacks to conceal and convey the fuel,” he added.
The Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Nosa Okunbor, confirmed one death, adding that the second victim was in a critical condition.
“What we gathered from bystanders was that the victims were performing a spiritual cleansing when the fire met them there and burnt them. But the pastor escaped. We saw the sponge they used for the spiritual exercise at the scene,” he said.
The Public Affairs Officer of the Lagos State Fire Service, Jamiu Dosumu, said two fire stations deployed men in the scene to extinguish the fire.
“The fire started from a pipeline, went through a canal and met some people undertaking a spiritual bath. One of them died, while the other suffered severe burns. Fire stations from Ikotun and Abesan responded to the emergency,” he stated.